How to Ensure Your New Build is a Green One

Energy efficiency has been a buzz word for a few years now, and can mean anything from the amount of electricity we use, to which lighting we choose for our homes.

Image by Alex Parks photos

As consumers, we can make smart choices with regards to which household appliances we have – most refrigerators and washing machines are built these days to use up to 40% less energy than models did twenty years ago.

If you’re planning a really green new-build, there are loads of ways in which you can ensure a high score on the energy efficiency scale.

These are some of them!

1. First off, where are you?

If you are in a position to be building your own home on your own patch of land, the planning for a green life starts at this point.

Your location will clearly have a massive impact on the amount of natural light reaching your property and by consequence its temperature too.

Trying to place your new build with south facing windows is a brilliant way of maximising natural light and the intake of heat –and clearly the best direction for any solar panels to be facing.

Image by Elsie Esq.

If you’re in a hot country, then you will also need to consider where the shade is – as you don’t want your house to be constantly overheated.

Houses situated on coasts and on the hill tops may need to look for natural elements to block too much wind – but of course, energy from the wind can be a massive advantage in terms of natural energy resource.

Once all these practical things have been taken care of, it’s important to consider insulation.

This means taking a good look at all the doors and windows and ensuring they’re not leaking too much warmth – you also want them to be doing their job in protecting against the elements.

2. In the frame

Wood and aluminium are the least efficient door and window frames when it comes to saving energy.

Recycled upvc doors and windows are made from recycled plastic which comes from oil, and they last up to 30 years and can be recycled up to 10 times. They are also easy to maintain and clean

Environmental surveys have shown that fitting these kinds of frames can save up to 20% on heating bills!

3. Underneath and overhead

A good foundation is essential, either stone or rammed earth.

Wall insulation is also crucial and can save you up to 50% on heat; this will mean you don’t need to have the heating on, thus saving energy and costing less in the long run.

Depending on the location of your new build, the roof needs to be able to serve its purpose well.

A dark roof will soak up the heat and transfer it into the home (best for cold climates) and a white roof will reflect light off the building, cooling it down.

4. Light up!

Architectural wizardry comes to the fore when ensuring enough light gets in through your windows and skylights.

Natural light is always a better option than switching on the lights if you’ve got it, so work to get the light reflected back into your house – this can be done via bigger windows, even ceiling to floor if necessary!

If electric light is still a bit of a necessity, then go for compact fluorescent bulbs which use two thirds less energy than regular bulbs. The new ones on the market actually mimic natural light – much nicer than an artificial glare!

You should also consider installing passive infra-reds in rooms that won’t be used too often, such as offices, corridors and toilets.

These lights get switched off automatically once the area becomes vacant – an effortless way to save energy!

All that’s left to say now is good luck with your new build!

Estelle Page is a thirty-something interior designer who blogs for Eurocell Composite Doors. When she’s not busy helping someone stage their home for buyers, she’s renovating her own house – inside and out.

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